Dabbing Is Newest Drug Trend

By May Wilkerson 06/15/15

The highly potent hash oil offers a stronger, faster high and possibly a greater risk of harm. 


More young people are getting high using a form of high-potent marijuana extract, known as “dabbing,” according to a new paper published today in Pediatrics. The practice involves inhaling vapors of a marijuana extract, butane hash oil (BHO), which has a much higher concentrate of THC than regular pot.

Dabbing is “really exploding onto the drug-use scene," said John Stogner, assistant professor of criminal justice and criminology at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and co-author of the report.

"We have been seeing an emergence of dabs over the last three years.” Besides the novelty of the trend, young people are drawn to dabbing because it produces "a stronger, faster high," said Stogner. "At a minimum, dabs are four times as strong as a joint, and the high is administered all at once.” Dabbing isn’t a new thing. Its use dates back to the 1970s, Stogner said, but in recent years, legalization of medical and recreational marijuana has made it more mainstream. And social media has helped spread its popularity, with many people learning how to use it via YouTube instructional videos. In states where marijuana can be purchased legally, it's possible to buy processed butane hash oil extracts (aka “dabs”) that have been processed commercially.

Creating dabs at home, in a process known as "blasting," has similar safety risks to manufacturing meth—which include possible explosions—according to the paper. There are no firm statistics to suggest just how popular the trend really is today. But some surveys suggest that in states where pot is legal, most marijuana users have tried it at least once.

The health effects and possible risks associated with dabbing remain largely unknown, but it is generally believed to be more dangerous than regular pot use. In the only study of dabbing to date, frequent marijuana users reported that they viewed it as more dangerous than other forms of pot use because it is so potent, and could lead to dependence or addiction. Said Stogner: "It's dangerous to assume the risks of dabbing are akin to [those of] smoking marijuana.”

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May Wilkerson is a writer, comic and Managing Editor @someecards. Co-host of the podcast Crazy; In Bed w/alyssalimp. She is also the top Google result for "insufferable lunatic." Follow this insufferable lunatic on Twitter.